SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — A historic area on the east side of Springfield is in the process of being redeveloped.
The Springfield Project is hoping to help grow and build businesses benefiting the entire community. More specifically, officials want to acquire a vacant building located on 1100 South Grand Ave. It was formerly a beauty supply store.
The store was also the site of a mass shooting in February of this year. Five people were shot, one killed, and two other people were injured at the deadly post-Valentine's Day party.
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On Tuesday night at committee of the whole, leaders from the nonprofit organization, The Springfield Project, say they’re going to convert the vacant building into a social innovation center business meant to help people in the predominantly African American and low-income neighborhoods.
Dominic Watson, the executive director of the Springfield Project says the goal is to focus on development, training, and workforce investment for entrepreneurs and young professionals.
“Long term we want to pump life back into that area and leverage the opportunity to celebrate the business activity not just for the social innovation club but for the existing business that are operating on that corner," Watson said.
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Other city leaders say they’re in support of this project including Ward 2 Alderman Shawn Gregory.
He says the project will be a huge benefit to the east side of Springfield and is confident it will move forward.
“It's a great project, it has multiple sections to it from coworking spaces to business innovation things that are really bubbling in our community,' Gregory said. "I have full confidence we will get that passed."
Mayor Jim Langfelder adding the money for the Springfield Project to receive the Southtown property would come from the city’s community development block grant fund.
The Springfield Project says the total cost to acquire and renovate the property is around 1.3 million. They will fund just over half of the project through grants and private fundraising while approximately $630,000 would be available from the city’s CDBG funds.
The Springfield Project says they’re hoping to open the doors for the social innovation center sometime in August of 2022.
But before this can move forward it will be up for debate at the city council next Tuesday.